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  • Writer's pictureSubiya Mboya

Children are Closer 2 God

Updated: Aug 8, 2022

At its leisure the dam unleashes a flood of wild white water

that engulfs the colorful garden

massacre of the lilies we once knew

waterfall into a dew of broken promises

that as they learn are no longer shielded from the realization of the world.


To dismantle the truth of a child's imagination

is just as violent as the rushing downpour of environmental ruin

The expedition back to the childlike state is a harrowing one

a journey that I uncover for you today.


Glossy red ribbons decorate freshly plaited hair

like a steady stream of blood against worn pavement

A pink frilly dress, scuffed black shoes with starched white socks:

Pre-school, which is funny because we are in school, age 3.


Three hands reach for the same doll

Sophie wins.

She sneers with a face I’ve never seen before, “You get the ugly one”

I didn’t know what ugly meant, so I asked the older girl who hands out snacks


Her recent manicure shone under the fluorescent lights

One thinly painted finger pointed to the doll

Whose eyes were deep

Whose nose was wide

And whose skin looked like mine.


I felt very still.

All the joy drained out through my eyes

It hurt all the way to my toes

But it didn’t yet have a name

So I took the hem of my pink frilly dress and forced the stream back into my eyes and continued to play with the ugliest doll in the box.


There was lots of crying in the bathroom that night

I had taken momma’s bleach and tried to draw a bath.


I hate recess

It is such a waste of time

where you find a stale blade of grass, tie it into a ring

and socially sanction your puppy love before all your friends

Just schoolyard games

But I’m never picked.


World History

Wooden desks embroidered with graffiti of private parts and sharpened #2 pencils

Cute girls with honey-flavored lip gloss

Cute boys who carry a stench so rotten that I gag

They try to mask it with cheap cologne

and somehow mixed the scent is intoxicating

I raise my hand to write the answer on the SmartBoard

The Black boys snicker and grin

I can feel their eyes work over my frame

My blush paints my palms plum with sticky regret

Mr. S says nothing really, just a careless

“All right, that’s enough. Eyes to the board”

But I can feel his eyes on me too

I felt very still

It hurt all the way to my toes

But it didn’t yet have a name.


That night I shakingly wrapped

a thin sheet around my body

acting as if it were arms that loved me.


Professors who profess half-truths

thousands in debt for more white lies

Rushed kisses and empty holds offer a moment of the divine

Fast, hard fucking which makes me feel grown-grown

Cadaverous hands that grope my Blackness,

Impale my womanhood,

And practice until they find their pale princess to love

The colonial concept of looking into his eyes

The white male gaze which only meets halfway

When I pretend he sees me,

I can mistake the numbness for joy.

It hurt all the way to my toes

But I begin to hear whispers of a name.


We attempt to reclaim our stolen histories

We attempt to learn what has been forced down our throats

But it is false

And we refuse to admit it because the acknowledgment addresses the pain

So we continue on in vain

Giggling gallantly as if stolen people can ever belong on stolen land

But that is false

And we know this.


The Earth truly belongs to no one

It doesn't even belong to a race of Kings and Queens forgotten

It belongs to the Sun,

just as the Sun belongs to the moon

and the tide belongs to the sea

which belongs to the countless tears I shed for the memories

of self-hate that many of my own encouraged.


They call it 400 years

I feel like it’s been so much longer

I have lived through “preferences” that stomped on my name

Until it was swallowed whole by an unfamiliar sorrow I was forced to toll


I have lived through my self-actualization and trial of my worthiness

Which is compiled of so much more than appearance

I know if we look at our elders, we understand that

Youth fades, beauty shifts,

and we are left with an altered perception of self.


There are days when I can't articulate where the pain lives

My body grows still under the rush of wild white water

All I can hear is white hissing silence

I have no name for it still

But that’s okay, for it’s a long journey home.



Edited by: Cecilia Innis and Ava Emilione

Cover Photo Displays: Subiya Mboya


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1 Comment


Ava Emilione
Ava Emilione
Jul 31, 2022

so good omg.

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